How to Declutter Those Unsightly Piles of Paper Lying Around Your House

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I used to keep all of the paperwork I’d receive because I was afraid I might need something one day. I was also afraid to toss it out because of all the personal information it contained.

My reasons were valid. The problem was that I never knew when to throw things away, and I had no system in place to help me organize my documents. So, over time, things just began to pile up and take up space. With all that happened last year, I had a lot of time to reflect, so decluttering my paperwork became my newest project.

If you’re thinking about decluttering your space from paperwork, here are some steps to get started, and say goodbye to those never-ending stacks of papers.

Coupons

I absolutely love coupons! Especially the cashback coupons from CVS, Kohls, and Macy’s. If you’re familiar with those cashback coupons, they never allow you to spend them right away. For these, I use a clear coupon zip envelope. You can easily find these on Amazon. I store these in my car’s glove compartment so that way it is away from the house and always on hand when shopping! I go through my bag once a month to throw away any expired coupons.

Magazines

I subscribe to four magazines that I receive monthly, but I somehow receive some extras that I never signed up to receive. However, I try not to be wasteful; I love a good read. If I can’t read these magazines in a week, I toss them (but not before I tear out the pages with the sample fragrances and keep those for an extra week).

Business Cards

I attend a lot of networking events, or shall I call them “business card exchange events,” because we know professional networking comes with the exchange of business cards. I place all of my business cards in my Rolodex cardholder at the office. Very seldom will I get business cards for personal use at home, but when I do, if it’s a service I could use, I use a magnetic holder and place them on the refrigerator.

Medical Bills

I have a medical bill envelope where I keep all my medical bills. Once I’ve filed a claim and submitted my receipt, I throw them away. If I plan to deduct them from my annual taxes, I leave them in the envelope until tax time and follow the IRS guidelines. 

Utility Bills

Dominion Energy likes to send both digital and hard copies statements…I haven’t been able to figure that one out! If I happen to check the mailbox when the paper bill comes, I shred them. If my hubby checks the mail, he tends to keep them. He still prefers to write checks monthly but usually tosses the paper bill away as he sends off a payment.

Insurance and Loans Documents

When It comes to loans and insurance documents, I store these in a secure file storage bin, where I also keep all of our family documents (birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards, passport, etc.). I’m still trying to decide whether renting a safe deposit box at a bank would be better but for now, they’re all in a storage bin in my closet, and I plan to keep these documents forever, including loan payoff information.

Tax Returns

I keep tax documents for up to seven years, which is generally the time frame for an IRS audit. When I was much younger, I made the mistake of not keeping up with these documents as I moved around and ended up making a hefty payment to the IRS (that was when I used a seasonal retail tax preparation service and could not get a hold of them).

Paystubs

Some employers still send paystubs, even though you can usually access them via (online) employee portals. I keep these in a separate bag in my storage bin for the entire year until I receive my W2’s, then I shred them.

Investment and Bank Documents

I generally keep my bank statements and 1099’s for three years. My bank statements I’d keep for a year if they were mailed to me, but I can usually access them electronically if needed.

My paper shredder has become my best friend. However, whenever I can, I always make sure I select the option to receive electronic documents. When all else fails and I still receive paper statements, I follow these simple steps to declutter and keep my house free of unnecessary papers.

How do you organize your documents to keep them from pilling up?

 

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Tania Foster
Tania was born in West Palm Beach, Florida but was raised by her paternal grandparents in a rural village in Nigeria. Tania and her sister returned to Florida when she was 13. She moved to Columbia in 2014 to support her sister who at the time was stationed at Ft. Jackson as a Drill Sergeant and was a new mom. She met her husband Roger who is a local pharmacist and a small business owner in 2015 and found a reason to stay in Columbia. She is mom to Darniel (14), Elton (4), and auntie to Jaylon (7). Tania has a passion for helping people understand their current financial picture so they can live better now while planning for their future. After years of working for some of the big investment firms she decided to take a leap of faith to start her own financial planning and wealth management firm; she’s the founder of TF Wealth Advisors. She loves to read. When she’s not reading the latest economic news, you can find her reading a romance novel or a memoir. Tania and her family enjoy the outdoors and mini-vacations.

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